Reps faults NESREA over alleged N1.25bn extra-budgetary expenditure

House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts has faulted authorities of the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Agency (NESREA) over alleged extra-budgetary expenditure of N1.25 billion in 2019.

The committee, chaired by Mr. Busayo Oluwole Oke, maintained that the money was expended in breach of laid down rules and regulations.

He argued that there was no evidence that the budget of the agency was ever tabled before the House at plenary, debated, or approved by the House.

Oke, therefore, directed the clerk of the committee to write letters to chairmen of the Committees on Environment of both chambers of the National Assembly, inviting them to come and explain their roles in the passage of NESREA’s 2019 budget.

Oke said it would amount to usurpation of powers of the President if it were established that the chairmen considered and approved the budget for the agency.

He said: “From details available in the 2019 submitted audited report of the agency, there was no evidence of its budget passing through the rungs of required legislative process of submission of estimates from the Presidency; no evidence of its receipt at the legislature or that it was debated at plenary by the House before being committed to relevant committees for necessary checks before it was compiled, along with those of other Ministries, Departments and Agencies, and sent to Mr. President for assent.

“If this is so, then it amounts to the two chairmen of the committees just sitting back in the corners of their offices and unilaterally approving the NESREA budget and ordering commencement of expenditure without Mr. President’s assent, amounting to an acts of illegality and gross insubordination.”

Oke also directed that letters be written to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, and the Clerk to the National Assembly, Ojo Olatunde, for proof that there were correspondences between the executive and the legislature on movement of the agency’s budget for the year under review.

He, therefore, summoned the chairmen of the Senate and House Committees on Environment to appear before his committee to explain their role in the spending, following allegations by Chief Executive Officer of the agency, Prof. Aliyu Jauro, that the budget was approved by the committees.

Jauro had claimed that his outfit had the mandate of the National Assembly to spend its Internally Generated Revenue, insisting the lawmakers approved the budget.(The Guardian)